Hi Friends and Family,
I am joining with my friend and fellow Council on Aging Board Member, Fred Randall, to invite you to join us for an amazing event, the 2020 Evening of Comedy, an event to raise funds for the Southern California Council on Aging. The Council is a non-profit that Fred and I enthusiastically support and that we both serve with passion as members of the Board of Directors.
Fred and I have established coordinated websites to jointly raise funds for the Council on Aging. Please go to https://betterunite.com/CouncilonAgingSouthernCalifornia-virtualaneveningofcomedy/fundraise/fredrandall to learn Fred’s story.
Fred and I have set a goal to raise $20,000! The best part for you and for the Council on Aging is that each dollar that you give will be matched jointly by Fred and me, up to our goal of $20,000. This means that Team Fred and Karen, with your help can raise as much as $40,000 for the Council on Aging! Any donations you make on either my or Fred’s website will apply to our joint fundraising goal.
Let me tell you why I believe in, and serve on the Board of Directors of, the Council on Aging. It all goes back to my mother, as is true for many of us who serve on the Board.
My quirky and much-loved mother, Lois Ellenberger Heath (known as Loie or Lowly Worm to me and my children) was a physical education teacher at Washington Junior High School in Pasadena. She was one of those PE teachers who mostly blew her whistle and usually ended up in bed for a week or two when she did anything more active. But as evident from the photo below, she was a skier (not a well-dressed one) and would always play a mean game of tennis with me. Loie was widowed in 1962 when my father, Wesley, died of a heart attack at age 54. Sadly, Wesley never had the chance to become a senior. He never met my husband or my children and that breaks my heart. One of my grandsons is named Wesley, after the great grandfather he never knew.
Young Loie Loie and Wesley 1935 Loie the skier 1938
At age 82, Loie fell in a supermarket and broke her hip. Although she quickly started to recover mobility, she was then hit by Parkinson’s Disease and soon lost her newly-recovered ability to walk. The remainder of her 5 years of life, until her death in 1996, was spent in a nursing home. It was the best one we could find in Pasadena, but we had no resources to enabled us to actually judge the quality of her facility. Loie seemed relatively happy, at least at first, and actually requested to return to this facility after a few weeks at home with a live-in helper. She missed speaking Spanish with the staff.
I was lucky that my sister, Tina, lived near Loie. Before Loie broke her hip, the two of them would hang out together each morning, watching their favorite soap operas. Not only was Tina nearby, but she was also an RN, so I was comforted in knowing she was watching over Loie’s health. After Loie broke her hip and moved to the nursing home, Tina remained a constant visitor and helper.
After the broken hip, plus the Parkinson’s, things just went downhill. Loie started to suffer from depression and soon refused to talk or interact with anyone in her facility. She lost interest in life. She had always been the person to go to for comfort and a listening shoulder. She was accepting of everyone, regardless of age, race, religion, or sexual identity. She was the life of the party, ready with a witty reply and a sly smile, and she was a constant loving presence to her two grandchildren, Adam and Andrea, whom she always supported and encouraged. It was Loie who encouraged my son to pierce his ear (back then, earrings on men were fashionable) and cheered when he cut his hair into a mohawk.
When Loie fell into depression and her health deteriorated, I had no resources to help me. I was, and still am, heartbroken at losing her and devastated that I wasn’t able to do more to help her. The photos below show Loie in happy times, 1989, with her characteristic sly smile, the year before she broke her hip, and in sad times in the nursing home, 1994, when her sly smile had left her, the year before she died.
Loie with sly smile and her family This smile-less photo makes me sad
If only I had known about the Council on Aging. This amazing group offers sympathetic and specific advice and programs for those who are aging and those who are helping the aging. The Council would have made such a difference for me, and for Loie.
I hope you will join me, in honor of Loie, to raise vital funds for the Council on Aging SmileMaker’s Holiday Gift Program. This program brings joy to the most vulnerable seniors, those without friends and family to help them, those without any expectation of receiving any holiday gift this year.
No donation you make is too small. Every dollar will go for gifts and services for these seniors who have been left behind.
Learn more about the SmileMaker’s Holiday Gift Program Here: